June 10, 2010
Comedy PR: Great British Comedy Event raises £300k.
Stars of some of our best-loved TV comedy shows raised laughter as well as money at the Great British Comedy Event last night as three of Britain’s greatest comedy partnerships were honoured, in the presence of the performers – writes Karin Farnworth.
Dawn French and comic partner Jennifer Saunders (pictured) were celebrated, alongside Ian Hislop and Paul Merton of Have I Got News For You fame, and Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones and Michael Palin of classic cult comedy Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
Hosted by Alexander Armstrong, the evening featured an auction, conducted by Lord Dalmeny, of Sotheby’s, at which a rare original script of the classic movie, Life of Brian, signed by John Cleese, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam and Michael Palin went under the hammer, alongside a chance to present a round of topical news quiz Have I Got News For You. Hislop and Merton attempted to outbid each other for the lot, which was eventually won by another bidder.
Also up for grabs were a walk-on role in the forthcoming Rowan Atkinson film Johnny English 2, memorabilia from Armando Iannucci’s comic nightmares The Thick of It and In the Loop and a vasectomy – for a romantic yet responsible gentleman. The auction raised over £300,000 for the School.
During the evening, stars and their guests took part in a specially commissioned quiz on the three comedy franchises, in which French & Saunders, Ian Hislop and Paul Merton, and the Pythons read out the questions on themselves. Only one table – led by Rowan Atkinson and Matthew Horn – got all 12 super-tough questions right. Their prize – a case of champagne – was collected by Rebecca Front.
A further comic twist came when Lord Dalmeny declared that Peter Bazalgette, a former Vice Chairman of the NFTS Board of Governors, would give the coat off his back to support the School – and proceeded to auction it off to the tune of £3000.
Students working at the event were thrilled to meet their comedy heroes. “I truly appreciate all these wonderful comedy legends giving up their time and money to help all of us to realise our own film and TV dreams,” said one.